Building partnerships that benefit food banks and the communities they serve

Food banks work at the heart of our communities making sure that everyone has access to nutritious food. As they look after access to food, any set of partners is looking after their access to the kind of training that will sustain their work. In Fall 2016, Washington Nonprofits teamed up with Northwest Harvest, our region’s leading hunger relief agency to deliver board and grantwriting courses in Skagit, Clark, and Yakima Counties. Katie Howard, veteran grantwriter and trainer, joined the team to deliver her highly acclaimed “Accidental Grantwriter” workshop.


“Many of our partner organizations have limited budgets for travel and training so being able to provide a nationally recognized training right in their backyard is incredibly important not just for our partners but for the communities they serve,” explained Northwest Harvest Partner Programs Manager Jenn Tennent. “We could not have done this on our own.”


The partners took a community approach to the initiative because food banks succeed when they are connected with other nonprofits around them. In Yakima, for example, the Mattawa and Yakima SDA Food Banks learned alongside colleagues from The Adult Activity Center, the Union Gospel Mission, Sunrise Outreach Center, and the Chamber of Commerce. “Our goal over time is that connections become collaborations. We believe in the power of networked leadership and know that the first step comes in building trust,” noted Washington Nonprofits Director of Learning Nancy Bacon.


This pilot has proven successful so far. Participants mentioned they are no longer afraid of grantwriting and that they now actually think it is fun. They said they found the training invaluable, and the fact that our partnership could bring together a number of non-profit leaders in a community together in one room was a fantastic learning and networking opportunity and a big success. Trainer Katie Howard confirmed the positive energy developed through these meetings: “Each of the three trainings we’ve held so far has been packed with people hungry to learn. One recent participant shared, ‘I’ve really been doing this wrong. Now I have tools and ideas to improve.’”


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